Archive | February, 2012

Pork Patties (Gravy Optional)

28 Feb

Homemade pork patties with sauce.

The following recipe is inspired by Canadian Living Magazine’s “Retro Pork Patties with Groovy Gravy”.

  • 1 lb lean ground pork
  • 1/3 cup dill pickles (about 2 medium-size pickles), finely chopped
  • 4 sprigs green onion, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • fresh oregano leaves (3 sprigs), remove leaves from stem, discard stem
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 10 graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 6 tbsps worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsps dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsps vinegar (white, malt, red or cider vinegar is good)
  • 3 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsps cornstarch mixed with a splash of water or chicken broth
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth

Garlic, green onion, fresh oregano, onion and dill pickles. These will eventually end up in the pork patties. First they need to be peeled, cleaned and chopped.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, egg, green onions, half the amount of garlic, pickles, graham cracker, milk, half the amount of onions, salt, pepper, oregano leaves, mustard and half (3 tbsps) the worcestershire sauce.  Combine well. Form 2 inch diameter patties with thickness about 1/2 inch.

The pork patties just placed onto a hot pan.

Heat a large pan on high. Add in the oil, then patties.  Cook on each side until golden brown (about 2 minutes each side). Remove patties which are NOT fully cooked. They will be returned to the pan soon though so don’t take them far. [ SIDE NOTE: the patties are just as good without the gravy; so you can finish pan frying the patties (turn down to a medium heat) or place the patties in a preheated 350 degree oven for about ten minutes (depending on the size of each patty).  Without the sauce, the pork patties make ideal hamburger patties. ]

Just flipped patties.

In the same pan, add in the remaining garlic and onions as well as the butter. Turn down heat to medium and cook until the onions are soft (about 5 minutes). Once ready, add in the sugar, vinegar, remaining worcestershire (3 tbsps), broth and cornstarch. As the sauce heats, it will thicken and bubble. When this happens, return the patties to the pan and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes so that the patties are thoroughly cooked.  Serve with rice or mash potatoes.

Patties simmering in a homemade gravy sauce.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

21 Feb

Grilled sourdough with baby spinach, cheddar cheese and prosciutto.

  • two slices of medium thick sourdough bread
  • a few slices of cheese (e.g. havarti, cheddar, mozzarella, swiss, etc.)
  • a few baby spinach leaves
  • 3 to 4 slices prosciutto

Heat a frying pan* on high heat. Place both slices of bread into the pan. When the slices are toasted, turn down the heat to medium and flip one of the slices over. On this flipped slice, place the cheese first, then spinach and prosciutto and then another layer of cheese. (The double layer of cheese will help hold the sandwich together). Place the toasted side of the other slice of bread onto the cheese.

Depending on how thick your sandwich is, you might want to cover it with a lid or plate. I find I usually don’t have to though. After a couple of minutes, carefully flip the sandwich and cook for another two to three minutes or until the cheese has melted. The grilled prosciutto spinach sandwich is now done. Cut in half with a sharp knife and serve immediately.

Feel free to switch it up by replacing the prosciutto with spicy genoa salami or adding thinly sliced tomatoes or using a different type of bread.  I personally love grilled cheese with sourdough because it’s a dense bread and when sourdough is toasted, it becomes incredibly crunchy especially the crust.

*I don’t have a panini press but if you do and you’re making this recipe, this is an ideal time to use it.

Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Today is Valentine’s Day and over the past while, I have been researching the origins of this lovely day. Here is what I discovered.

Who was Saint Valentine? There are several saints named Valentine who were honoured on February 14 and hence no one definitive saint has been given this distinction. However, a popular candidate is Valentine of Rome who was a priest. The story goes that the ruling emperor at the time outlawed all engagements and marriages in Rome. At the time, the emperor was having trouble recruiting soldiers for his military and suspected it was because the men wanted to stay at home with their lovers.  Valentine married couples in secret and was punished with death (AD 269).

Reference: Curious Events in History by Michael Powell, 2007.

What are the origins of this day? Around the time of St. Valentine’s death (AD 269), packs of wolves were known to attack animal herds. In hopes of keeping their herds safe, shepherds dedicated an annual festival (called Lupecalia) held from February 13 to 15 to Lupercus, who is the Roman god of shepherds. As part of the festival’s rituals, young women’s names were put into a box and then drawn by the young men. These couples were paired off for the rest of the year. In AD 496, Lupecalia was renamed St. Valentine’s Day and February 14 chosen to mark the occasion.

References:  Curious Events in History by Michael Powell, 2007 and Wikipedia.

History behind Valentine’s cards: Valentine’s greetings date back to the Middle Ages when lovers sang or recited their valentines.  Written valentines began to appear around 1400 when they were often replaced with Valentine’s Day gifts.  Some were made of paper while others were made with lace and ribbon. The oldest valentine known to exist dates back to this time and is currently housed at the British Museum.  The production of valentines in factories began in the 1800s. Today, approximately one billion valentines are delivered around the world.

Reference: Greeting Card Museum 

Interesting Facts:

  • Venus is the Roman goddess of love. Her son is Cupid.
  • The red rose was Venus’ favourite type of flower.
  • Giving a Valentine’s gift to a pet is not uncommon.
  • Teachers receive the most valentines, followed by children, mothers, wives and sweethearts.
  • Hallmark Cards produced its first valentine in 1913.
  • Some consider Casanova the world’s greatest lover.
  • In the past, physicians advised their patients to eat chocolate in order to soothe their grief for a lost love.
  • Valentine’s Day is not an official holiday.

Valentine’s Day Humour: A friend of mine, who knew I was researching Valentine’s Day, sent this clever joke to me.

“Valentine’s Day is cancelled this year. Mathematical proof: 14 – 02 – 12 = 0.”

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!!

Pan-fried Oriental Style Chicken Patties

7 Feb

Pan-fried oriental-style chicken patties.

  • 1lb extra lean ground chicken
  • 1 carrot, coarsely grated
  • 3 sprigs green onion, chopped
  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups water for 3 to 4 hours, once finished soaking, squeeze out liquid in the mushrooms and finely chop
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, mined
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsps soy sauce
  • 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil.  Mix well. Form chicken mixture into rounds with diameter 2 inches and thickness 1/2 inch.

Heat a pan on high. Add in the oil, then chicken patties. Cook until golden brown on one side  (about 2 minutes), then flip the rounds over. Using the back of a spatula, flatten the patties so that they are about 1/4 inch thick. Flattening the patties will reduce the cooking time.  Turn down heat to medium and cook until done (about 5 minutes).  Serve immediately.